The Curly Coated Retriever

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Curly Coated Retriever
Weight: 60 — 75 lbs
Height: 23” — 27”
AKC Rank 2008 #136
Lifespan: 8—12 yrs
Group Sporting
Origin: England

Dog Breed Info—Curly Coated Retrievers

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Breed Overview

Origin: 1700’s. Original function: Water retrieving. Today: Water retrieving, field trials, Companion. Colors: Black or liver.

The Curly Coated Retriever is one of the oldest of the retriever breeds, dating back to the 1700’s in England. The exact origin is unknown but the breed is thought to have evolved from the Old English Water Dog, .Irish Water Spaniel and some variety of Newfoundland. All of these dogs combined were some of the finest water retrievers ever. Later the breed was crossed with the Poodle, another excellent water retriever, enhanced the tight curls and made this one of the best water dogs ever. By the 1800’s the Curly Retriever was extremely popular in England where it was valued for retrieving and as a companion.

The breed was exported to Australia and New Zealand where it became very popular, and still is. The breed came to America in 1907 and the AKC registered it in 1924. These dogs never made it big in the States, even though it still remains a treasured item “down under.” Many hunters complained that the breed had a hard mount and they chose other retrievers so it lost popularity. This is reported toi be false and others say the Curly has a soft mouth. The fact it that the Labrador Retriever basically replaced this dog. So be it.


Curly Coated Retrievers are generally easy to train but they are independent and require a lot of patience. They bore easily so the training sessions need to be kept light, active, exciting and not too long at a time.. Especially good is clicker training with positive reinforcement. This breed does well with agility, games, tricks and obedience work and wants to please. The dog is also quite sensitive so no harsh commands or corrections. That’s where positive reinforcement comes in. Use it to full advantage.

Curly Coated Retriever resting
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Crate Training

Want to crate train your Curly Coated Retriever puppy? It's easy and if you're interested, take a look and you'll see what to do. Crate training your puppy will save many headaches and problems.

Potty Training

The Curly Coated Retriever puppy may take his time to house train, potty train, toilet train, housebreak or whatever you want to call it. If you have a puppy, decide if you want to crate or paper potty train it. For the best results, we have a page at Crate vs Paper Potty Training which will help you decide and from there you can get all the information you need to get the job done. Always praise the pup profusely when she goes potty in the RIGHT PLACE so she knows she has done a good thing. Either method will work for this breed.

If you have an older dog, take the dog outside every two hours until she gets the idea which door leads to her potty area. Older dogs catch on to the potty or housebreaking pretty fast onc


This is a dedicated and accomplished land and water-retriever. The Curly Coated loves water and is an excellent swimmer. Indoors, he’s loyal, calm, friendly, affectionate and gentle. The dog is quite sensitive so harsh words are not desired. The breed does well with children, is responsive to commands and is always eager to please. While comfortable with his family of humans, he is reserved, timid, even wary with strangers. This is a fine “buddy” for the active outdoor individual and a devoted family companion. The dog needs to be handled by an alpha-pack-leader who will maintain a dominating ;leadership role with the dog so the dog can remain in a submissive position in the family.

This breed needs socialization starting very young, at around 4 or 5 weeks and continuing on through life. He needs to be handled, petted and played with as a tiny puppy by children, men, women, mailmen, and so on, as well as daily mingling with other dogs and cats. Socialize every day, as it will pay off later in life. At the same time, the breeder should start obedience training and you should continue that throughout the dog’s life too. That way, when the time comes, you have a sweet, gentle house pet and great buddy for the children.

If you happen to get a Curly Coated with a separation anxiety problem, that can be dealt with by investing a few hours of work on your part and some "tough love."

Friendly Toward Other Dogs

Mixed. Will pick and choose his dog friends. Does well with some dogs but you never know which other ones. Early socialization helps.

Friendly Toward Other Pets

.Fairly good. Introduce the Curly to other dogs on common ground walks so the dogs get acquainted slowly before coming hems. Introduce to a cat by placing the cat in a crate in the room for an hour a day for four days and let the dog to explore the crate. Then let the dog and cat mingle in the room together while supervised. The better the Curly has been socialized, the quicker he will adjust.

Friendly Toward Strangers

No. Reserved, wary and timid around strangers. Fine once he gets to know you.


Reasonably playful. Loves to romp and run with the kids, is up for a game and tags along with the family.


Quite affectionate for a big dog.

Good with children?

Very good with kids. Quite tolerant, playful and fun-loving. They like to romp and run with the children but the Curly Coated Retriever should be with older, well;-mannered kids 6 or 7 and up as dogs this size can easily injure very small children.. Teach this dog some games and let the kids play all afternoon with their dog!

Good with Seniors over 65?

Yes. The Curly Coated Retriever can be a good match for seniors. As long as the senior can get out and walk, throw a ball and drive to the vet, it should work. The dog is loyal, affectionate, easy to care for and a good companion on dark nights so it’s a “go.”

Living environment

House with medium to large fenced yard and a “doggie door” for indoor-outdoor living. A farm or ranch is fine too. The Curly Coated Retriever needs to live indoors with his family of humans for the companionship. He can NOT be left outdoors alone for long periods.

Energy level

Moderate energy. Rate this 7 bars out of 10.

Exercise needs, daily

Pre4fers something involving swimming and retrieving. Two good walks on leash are okay. Several training sessions and play time involving games and fetch are good too.


Good. Will alert to anything unusual.

Guard dog

Will protect his family, but is not known to be a first-class guardian.


Moderate shedding.


Don’t brush. Comb the curly coat now and then, before getting wet. Occasional clipping will be needed to get rid of excess growth. Only brush while shedding.


Suggested Reading—The Curly Coated Retriever

  • Book at far left is a hardcover Comprehensive Owners Guide for the Curly Coated Retriever.

  • 2nd book from left is “A Dog Who's Always Welcome.” This is a training book that goes way beyond ordinary obedience and will turn your dog into a THERAPY DOG, temperament-wise. Everyone will welcome your dog because of his outstanding behavior!

  • 3rd book from the left is “50 Games Top Play With Your Dog.” A collection of simple to teach and play games for the active dog to keep him busy and interested, not bored. It’s a fun book and even better if you have children.

  • Book at far right is by the American National Red Cross and deals with dog health, emergencies and injuries. It’s a valuable reference manual for all dog owners. Vol 2, 2008, includes a DVD.

Curly Coated Retriever Breeders

In the event you decide to go looking for Curly Coated Retriever puppies, be SURE to find reputable breeders that really know what they are doing. Be sure the puppy has been VERY well socialized and started in obedience training.
Curly-Coated Retriever Breeders with puppies for sale. This is a hard-to-find breed. You might want to search online for more breeders, especially in your country.

Curly Coated Retriever Rescue

In the event you are seriously considering the adoption of an older dog and are looking for a Curly Coated Retriever Rescue group near you, here is a link that might help:
Petfinder - Dog Rescue - (Nationwide) As I write this, I noticed Petfinder is listing only 26 Curly Coated Retrievers available to adopt in the USA. That number can change, of course. You may want to go online and search for Curly-Coated Retriever Rescue Groups, Clubs or Kennels.

Dog Health Issues For Curly Coated Retrievers
Below: The dog illness / illnesses or medical problems as listed for the Curly’s by various vets.

This is basically a healthy breed. Don’t let the list below scare you! Your own dog will probably never have ANY of these problems. These are dog illness and medical problems this breed is prone to that have been listed by various veterinarians at different times over the past decade or so and some pertain to puppies and very young dogs that a breeder would deal with.The information contained herein has been gathered from numerous books by veterinarians and is intended as general information only. Every dog and situation is different. You must see your vet. Our information is for general interest only and not intended to replace the advice provided by your own veterinarian.

  • Hip dysplasia CHD- Hind end limping, hind/back leg acts lame, can't move, weak legs. Wear and time causes the femur to fit poorly into the pelvic socket with improper rotation causing the Plott great pain, weakness and difficulty walking. You may notice the dog “hopping”” like a rabbit when running plus hesitating to climb stairs, all due to pain in the hind quarters. The problem actually starts as a very young puppy with an abnormal formation of the hip joint and grows progressively. A vet can locate this with a diagnostics test.

  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy—(PRA) An inherited, untreatable disease of the retina affecting both eyes causing blindness. It’s in the genes of the dog and is not painful. Starts with night blindness and progresses as the retina gradually deteriorates.

  • Epilepsy—A serious seizure disorder that shows up at around 2 to 4 or 5 years of age in dogs.

  • Distichiasis—An eye condition involving the cornea. Eyelashes, growing improperly on the inner surface of the eyelid cause corneal ulcers due to the constant rubbing and irritation. The problem is fixed by having the vet remove the lashes if the ulcers don’t heal.

  • Cataracts—Hazy or cloudy vision and if not treated can lead to total blindness.

  • Entropion—Eye irritation caused by the eyelids and lashes rolling inward. The problem is usually inherited and found in young, adult dogs. It can come from an eyelid spasm. Affected eyes will be held partially shut and tear excessively. Both eyes will usually be affected the same. Treatment for the condition requires eye surgery.

  • Ectropion—A hereditary medical problem. The lower eyelid grows outward leaving a gap between the eye and the eyelid. Excessive tearing and conjunctivitis are common signs of the disease but some dogs will have no symptoms. Blunt trauma and/or nerve damage can also cause the problem. If the cornea becomes damaged or if the conjunctivitis becomes chronic, surgery will be necessary.

Other health problems could occur with your Curly Coated Retriever. If you notice any problems with your dog, take it to the vet immediately. This website is for general information only and is not intended to, in any way, be a medical guide.


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